Who do you think are the better drivers: The old or the young? The old have more experience but reaction times are known to slow down as we get older.
How should it be judged? The number of road traffic accidents or fatal collisions caused by old and young drivers might indicate who is better. Alternatively you could examine how much each group must pay for car insurance.
Young drivers can pay up to three times as much for their insurance policies. Meanwhile drivers aged 71 and over have, on average, the cheapest rate of insurance for any age group. Is this fair? What is the reason behind cheaper car insurance for older drivers? Does this suggest that older drivers are better?
Older drivers must deal with their age affecting their ability to drive. Their movement might become more restricted due to arthritis or rheumatism, reaction time will get worse with slowed reflexes and vision loss will impact their ability to perceive distance, depth and speed. Drivers over 80 make up a high number of the motorists who die or are seriously injured in Road Traffic Accidents. It’s conceivable that a large factor is the fragility of elderly drivers. However the Institute of Advanced Motorists does note that drivers over 85 are four times more likely to have caused a crash than to have been an innocent victim in a collision.
Statistics from the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the RAC Foundation have however both found that on balance young drivers are more dangerous than the elderly. It is recognised that although older drivers can struggle in places where you must either turn around quickly or make quick decisions, drivers who are aged 17 to 19 are the most at risk of fatal road accidents.
Older drivers adapt their driving style, becoming more cautious to make up for their slowed reactions and declining vision. Their cautious driving style makes older drivers less likely to be involved in accidents caused by reckless driving, drink driving or speeding.
So if decided on safety grounds the answer is clear: The old are the better drivers.
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